successful tour of the exhibition Impressionism from Dawn till Dusk: Slovenian Art 1870 1930 in Prague and
after the conclusion of other presentations, the New Wing of the National
Gallery of Slovenia is once again wholly dedicated to the overview of Slovenian
art from 1870 onwards. This gave us an opportunity to rearrange the
installation designed at the opening of the extended Permanent Collection after
the renovation of the Narodni dom Palace in January 2016.
collection is still organised more or less chronologically and deals with art
history themes. Thus, we again follow the development of Realism, the rise and
passing of Impressionism, the overview of interwar art and conclude with the
most important representatives of the pre-War generation that remained active
after 1945. The new installation includes 161 paintings, 42 sculptures, 20
photographs and 1 work on paper.
are the most well-known works in the Gallery: Woman Drinking Coffee and Self
Portrait in White by Ivana Kobilca, Black
Woman by Anton Ažbe, impressionist landscapes of Ivan Grohar and Matija
Jama, Križanke by Rihard Jakopič, The Red Parasol by Matej Sternen, Victims by Franc Berneker, Lucija in an Old-Fashioned Dress by
Gabrijel Stupica. A sequence of monumental genre paintings, with Summer by Ivana Kobilca as the most striking
piece, takes visitors from plein air painting Before the Hunt by Jurij Šubic to The Rakers by Ivan Grohar, which represent one of the artist’s
first attempts at impressionist painting. Amongst the series, we find the first
sculpture by a Slovenian artist exhibited at a Salon exhibition in Paris - The Cossack’s Dreams by Ivan Zajec.
renovation of the Narodni dom Palace in 2016, our goal was to make a broad
presentation of the works of art kept at the Gallery; now, after a few years
and hundreds of thousands of visitors, we are showcasing a more select
collection of paintings and give more room to sculpture. Placed closer to
exhibition walls, sculpture comes more into focus and starts a more direct
dialogue with pictures. Sometimes, we can draw parallels between the theme or
the visual treatment, like between A
Trumpeter by Marij Pregelj and Harlequin
in Love by Stojan Batič. More visible is also the connection between
Slovenian writers and visual artists. The statue of Valentin Vodnik by Alojz
Gangl stands in a smaller room without any other pieces, while Gangl’s bust of
Josip Stritar adorns the hall with paintings by Janez and Jurij Šubic, with
whom the writer and editor collaborated. Statue of Oton Župančič, a renowned
modernist poet, by Franc Berneker is placed alongside the Circle Dance from White Carniola by Matija Jama. Župančič
originated in that region and socialized with the painter; they often walked
through the Ljubljana Moor. The bust of Ivan Cankar, the most important
Slovenian writer, by Alojzij Repič, is placed alongside Grohar’s impressionist
scenes that Cankar appreciated so much.
Placed in the
same hall are also works of (peasant) genre scenes by the second generation of
Slovenian realists. Ethnographically interesting works by Jožef Petkovšek,
Peter Žmitek, and especially Ivana Kobilca and Ferdo Vesel, who shared a studio
in Munich, reveal the influences of masters from the Bavarian capitol, Paris
and Russia. They, like so many European artists, looked for a genuine and
specific character of their nation among the common folk.
collection features several new paintings: a sweet image of a curly boy by Ferdo
Vesel, Old Deserter and Woman in a Kerchief by Ivana Kobilca, which are placed next to her Woman Drinking Coffee and reveal her working process, The Sower and symbolist visions of women
in grooves by Rihard Jakopič. Some works of art are on loan from private
collection and associations, or come from the collections of Museum and
Galleries of Ljubljana or the Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, like The Shepherd by Ivan Grohar.
Also new is the selection of photographs taken by visual
artists at the turn of the centures and kept in museum and private collections.
Ferdo Vesel, Ivana Kobilca and Matej Sternen are represented by photographic
studies they used for painting, and with nudes that are more readily accepted
as independent works of art. Avgust Berthold is presented through the overview
of his impressionistic compositions. Among the photographs, we thus find
Kobila’s study for the painting Summer and Berthold’s The Sower, which was
used by Ivan Grohar for his iconic canvass. All photographs are reproductions
of original images or negatives, since these cannot be shown for an extended
period of time due to strict conservation-restoration standards.